Tulsa’s Black Wall Street was a prosperous Black community that had a large working-class population, including doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. However, resentment toward Black prosperity caused a white mob to kill hundreds of residents, burn more than 1,250 homes, and erase years of Black success.
Besides the destruction of properties, the 1921 massacre also destroyed inheritance that could be passed to generations. “When the violence ended, Tulsa Negroes were homeless,” the Journal of Black Studies noted in 1972.
Now, a new group of Black entrepreneurs operating in the tech space wants to restore Tulsa’s Black Wall Street to its former glory by turning it into a tech hub. Here are some of them:
Edna Martinson, co-founder, Boddle: Ugandan-born Edna Martinson is the co-founder of Boddle. Martinson established her educational gaming platform to address the issues of learning gaps in elementary classrooms and also get more children motivated to learn.
“I’ve seen personally, what a good education can do to help propel you in life,” Martinson told ABC News. “And I want to help kids also be inspired to learn and get that good quality education.”
Martinson first came to Tulsa in August 2020 and according to her, she was inspired to move to this historic community because of the effort that is being done to rebuild the city.
Chantelle Lott, CEO, Bounceless: Chantelle Lott is the CEO of Bounceles, which creates patented activewear and sports bras for fuller busted women. Lott is working round the clock to create a market for her brands.
“Rebuilding Tulsa, rebuilding Greenwood, that was a passion of mine since I got here. It’s a great experience to really contribute to the history and those who came before us, and to also pass it on to future generations,” Lot said of building her company in Tulsa.
Chandler Malone, CEO of Bootup: Chandler Malone is the CEO of Bootup. His company helps firms solve talent gaps by giving them access to a pool of tech talents. According to Malone, his company also assists individuals to increase access to economic mobility through access to jobs in tech regardless of their college qualifications.
So far, he has placed over 300 people in their first tech jobs. According to him, this is important because tech provides the most upside, economically. Malone has been in Tulsa since December 2019.
Jayvin Washington, founder and CEO, BiteWay: Jayvin Washington, on the other hand, is the founder of the meal prepping company BiteWay. Washington grew up in Tulsa and considers it home and believes it is important for her to be part of rebuilding the community.
“Black Wall Street was a phenomenal, like extraordinary time and place that we had here in Tulsa. And it was destroyed, but it wasn’t taken from us,” she said. “We still have that spirit, and it still lives on. We’re able to use that energy, and to rebuild and reconstruct what was always here in the first place.”
Kene Onuorah, co-founder and CEO, Comme Homme: Onuorah co-founded Comme Homme to deal with the situation of men experiencing hair loss, something he experienced when he was young.
“We’re building Comme Homme for the two-thirds of all American men that deal with hair loss, about 50 million men to help them embrace their natural evolution,” he said.
Onuorah comes from Raleigh, North Carolina but he is of Nigerian heritage.
Photos credit: Twitter/Linkedin/Bootup/Michigan Ross